Tax Break

Getting summer help? Classify properly

Posted on Jun 25, 2018

Don’t subject your business to tax penalties by misclassifying employees and independent contractors. You can avoid misclassification by understanding how the law defines employment (we can help you with this), and by creating and following work-habit guidelines. Thoroughly review your work arrangement not only at the beginning of professional relationships, but regularly to ensure both you and your employee are on the same page. Gilliland & Associates, PC is a full-service CPA firm specializing in tax planning for individuals and businesses in the Northern Virginia area. We are based in Falls Church, VA and also service clients in McLean and Tysons Corner, VA. Gilliland & Associates is known for our superior knowledge and aggressive interpretation and application of tax laws. We help you keep more of your earnings by finding you the lowest possible tax on your business or personal tax return. You can connect with us on Google+, LinkedIn, Facebook, and...

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Parents, Children, and Taxes

Posted on Jun 20, 2018

  Being a parent brings tremendous rewards, but also the challenge and responsibility of supporting and educating your child. Fortunately, the tax code has many ways to help ease a parent’s financial burden. Here’s an overview of the many ways that taxes can affect your decisions as a parent. Exemptions and credits   Being a parent usually cuts your tax bill in at least two ways. You can generally claim a dependency exemption for each child under age 19, or under age 24 for full-time students. You can also claim a child tax credit for each child under age 17. This is a direct credit against taxes you owe, and it can be partially refundable. Other credits include the adoption credit to offset expenses of adoption and the child care credit. This credit allows you to offset some of the costs of paying for child care so that both spouses can work or attend school full-time. Many of these tax breaks phase out for those at higher income levels. Education expenses   One of the biggest challenges for a parent is funding a child’s college education. A variety of tax breaks can help with this major expense, including savings plans, tax credits, and tax deductions. These measures all have different rules and eligibility requirements. There are two main types of savings plans for education expenses: Coverdell education savings accounts and Section 529 plans. Coverdell accounts work rather like an IRA. Contributions grow tax-free, and withdrawals are free of tax if used for qualified education expenses. Coverdell accounts can also be used to pay for K-12 expenses as well as college costs. Section 529 plans provide tax-free earnings and distributions for higher education expenses, and they generally have fewer restrictions than Coverdell accounts. The American Opportunity credit and the Lifetime Learning Credit are two tax credits available for education expenses. Each has its own rules and income limits, and you cannot use both credits for the same child in the same year. A limited tax deduction is available for student loan interest expense. In addition, interest on U.S. savings bonds can be tax-free if the bonds are used for education expenses. Child tax issues   The “kiddie tax” is a rule that affects the investment income of children. A child’s unearned income above a threshold amount will be taxed at the parent’s highest rate until the child reaches a certain age. The intent is to stop a high-income parent from shifting large amounts of earnings to a child in a lower tax bracket. A strategy of “income shifting” can make sense for a family once the child is old enough to escape the kiddie tax. Parents can gift income-earning assets to older children (subject to the annual and lifetime gift limits), and the children will pay tax on the income earned at their own (presumably lower) rates. Another tax-cutting strategy is to employ your child in the family business. The business can take a deduction for wages paid, while the child often pays little or no taxes on his or her earnings. It must be a real job, though, and the wages must be reasonable for the work. If your children have earnings from summer or after-school jobs, encourage them to open IRA accounts. The additional years of tax-free compounding can produce huge additional savings by the time your children reach retirement age. Don’t overlook the role of grandparents. They can help pay college expenses, for example, either by contributing to education savings plans or by paying tuition bills directly. Also, by giving appreciated stock to their grandchildren, they may be able to boost the children’s savings while reducing overall taxes for the family unit. Estate planning   For a parent, estate planning is especially important. The first priority is to make sure your children are protected in the event that something happens to you. Your estate plan should appoint guardians for your minor children, as well as provide for their financial well-being. Early estate planning can also help to ensure that your assets pass to your children as you...

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Same-sex Couples Deemed Married for Federal Tax Purposes

Posted on Jun 13, 2018

The U.S. Treasury Department and the IRS issued ruling as a direct result of Supreme Court action regarding same-sex couples. In short: Under the ruling any same-sex marriage legally entered into in one of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, or a U.S. territory that recognize same-sex marriage will be treated as married for all federal tax purposes. This includes: •filing status •personal deductions •dependency exemptions •standard deductions •employee benefits •tax credits •retirement plans and contributions More importantly, this ruling applies regardless of where the same-sex couple currently lives. The ruling applies to originally being married in jurisdictions that legally recognize their marriages. Other things to note: Beginning in 2013, same-sex couples within this ruling must file either married filing jointly or married filing separately. You may no longer file as a single taxpayer. You may choose to, but are not required to, file amended tax returns as being married for any prior tax years that are still open under the statute of limitations. This usually means three tax years. This ruling DOES NOT apply to registered domestic partnerships, civil unions or similar formal relationships. If you paid for same-sex health insurance coverage from an employer in after-tax dollars you may be able to shift these premiums into pre-tax dollars. State laws are more complex and are currently evolving so try to keep informed of any new developments on this front. Gilliland & Associates, PC is a full-service CPA firm specializing in tax planning for individuals and businesses in the Northern Virginia area. We are based in Falls Church, VA and also service clients in McLean and Tysons Corner, VA. Gilliland & Associates is known for our superior knowledge and aggressive interpretation and application of tax laws. We help you keep more of your earnings by finding you the lowest possible tax on your business or personal tax return. You can connect with us on Google+, LinkedIn, Facebook, and...

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Don’t let scant tax records be your downfall

Posted on May 21, 2018

Tax records should be kept year-round, not hastily assembled just for your annual tax appointment. Without tax records, you can lose valuable deductions or have unsubstantiated items disallowed if you’re audited. Generally, returns can be audited up to three years after filing. However, if income is underreported by more than 25 percent, the IRS can collect underpaid taxes up to six years later. In other words, you need good records to verify what you report on your tax return, and you should hang on to those records for seven years. Gilliland & Associates, PC is a full-service CPA firm specializing in tax planning for individuals and businesses in the Northern Virginia area. We are based in Falls Church, VA and also service clients in McLean and Tysons Corner, VA. Gilliland & Associates is known for our superior knowledge and aggressive interpretation and application of tax laws. We help you keep more of your earnings by finding you the lowest possible tax on your business or personal tax return. You can connect with us on Google+, LinkedIn, Facebook, and...

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Get your small business off the rocks

Posted on May 16, 2018

Every small business eventually hits a rough patch. It’s easy to get discouraged when it happens. But look at the upside: you have infrastructure in place, you have existing customers and most importantly, you have the hard-won experience of knowing what works and what doesn’t. With that in mind, here are some ideas to get things back on track: Focus on triage. Just like a hospital ranks patients for attention according to the severity and urgency of their injuries, you need to rank your biggest issues. First list what needs to be done urgently, such as paying bills, making payroll and delivering orders. Then rank what is most important long-term, like reviewing expenses, improving marketing and advertising, and gathering sales leads. This process means setting aside the idealistic business plan you had before you ran into problems and focusing on the nitty-gritty business realities of revenue, expenses and cash flow. You can pick up the business plan after you plug the holes in the boat, and revise it based on what you learned from your difficult period. Cut costs. If you are running into troubles you may be spending money on things that aren’t working. Try this exercise before trouble is seen on the horizon: ask yourself what you would eliminate first if your business situation took a turn to the worse. Second? Third? You’ve just made your cost-cutting priority list. Get market information. When your business isn’t working well, you need to take a closer look at your market. Look at what your most successful competitors are doing. Pick the brains of your customers, your vendors and your employees for their opinions about the products, services and companies in your industry. Improve your offering. Based on what you’ve learned from your market research, make improvements to your product or service. Use your research and business experience to help you narrow down your list to a few ideas, which you can then test through trial-and-error. One of the most disciplined ways to do this is through A/B testing: create two versions of your offering with one variable changed. Keep whichever one does better and scrap the other, then offer a new A/B test using the improved version. Your products or services will get better over time based on market feedback. Improve your operations. Your product or service may be great, but for some reason it’s not getting the attention of customers. Meanwhile, a competitor may be outselling you with something inferior. If that’s the case, you’ll need to revamp your operations: your marketing, advertising, sales and online presence. You can use the same A/B process you used to improve what you’re selling to improve how you sell: change one variable at a time and learn from trial-and-error what works and what doesn’t. Remember, great businesses are those that address problems and use them to grow. When seen in this light your business will often become stronger as a result of periodic challenges. Gilliland & Associates, PC is a full-service CPA firm specializing in tax planning for individuals and businesses in the Northern Virginia area. We are based in Falls Church, VA and also service clients in McLean and Tysons Corner, VA. Gilliland & Associates is known for our superior knowledge and aggressive interpretation and application of tax laws. We help you keep more of your earnings by finding you the lowest possible tax on your business or personal tax return. You can connect with us on Google+, LinkedIn, Facebook, and...

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Home equity loan interest deductibility has changed

Posted on May 4, 2018

Congress cracked the whip on home equity interest tax deductions in 2018. Now, only loans used to buy, build or improve your home will be deductible. That means if you used a home equity loan to consolidate debt or fund a purchase that was not related to your home, you can no longer deduct the interest. Gilliland & Associates, PC is a full-service CPA firm specializing in tax planning for individuals and businesses in the Northern Virginia area. We are based in Falls Church, VA and also service clients in McLean and Tysons Corner, VA. Gilliland & Associates is known for our superior knowledge and aggressive interpretation and application of tax laws. We help you keep more of your earnings by finding you the lowest possible tax on your business or personal tax return. You can connect with us on Google+, LinkedIn, Facebook, and...

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